What I do
As a Parenting Co-ordinator (PC) I am appointed by a couple and provide education about the long term effects to a family of high conflict, mediation where there may be an issue to be resolved and binding decisions in certain circumstances, when mediation has not been successful.
PC is the new kid on the block in non court resolution. It is widely used in USA, Canada and South Africa where it is considered to be the “norm”. It works for those who have an ongoing pattern of conflict regarding arrangements for their children and are unable to agree.
I can only work with parents or carers who have a Parenting Agreement or a Court Order.
What does Parenting Co-ordination cover?
The underlying principle of a parenting co-ordinator is to keep a focus on the children’s best interests and to assist the parents in making the best decisions they can for their children.
Where decisions for children’s arrangements are required, and the parents are unable to plan without anger, it can have a serious impact on the children’s developmental and psychological needs. The PC’s intervention will reduce the amount of damaging conflict between parents to which the children are exposed. Divorce and separation in themselves need not harm children, what causes them harm and possible ongoing problems throughout their lives is being in the middle of conflict between their parents
PC can improve the family’s immediate, but especially long-term narrative. It can identify strategies that can effect even small adjustments in functioning that will help set a separated family on an improved track. It can show positive role modelling for children’s management of future relationships and identify triggers and calm rather than stoking the fire.
It takes an educational role, recognising the positives and building from there to ensure children can flourish as best they are able.
The PC process is a forwarding looking process – it tries to draw a line in the sand – there is an emphasis is on recognising a parenting relationship is a new type of relationship and helping that relationship become a problem-solving relationship.
Most PC agreements last for about two years, participants can tailor make their agreement to what they both want.
PC allows parents and carers to move away from continuous court applications to vary or enforce and work together to be the best parents they can be.
What does PC cover?
- conflicts in the arrangements for the children’s day to day care;
- difficulties related to the children’s transitions between their parents, including codes of conduct and transportation;
- developing any necessary clarifying provisions that were not anticipated when the parenting plan or order was developed;
- assisting parents to communicate more effectively where appropriate;
- assisting parents with the exchange of information about the children (i.e., health, welfare, education, religion, routines, day-to-day matters, etc,)
- addressing temporary changes to the usual holiday child arrangements, to accommodate special events and circumstances for the children and/or the parents;
- resolving conflicts concerning the children’s participation in recreational, enrichment or extracurricular activities, lessons, and programs;
- addressing movement of the children’s clothing, equipment, toys and personal possessions between households;
- addressing matters relating to the children’s travel with one parent;
- resolving conflicts concerning day to day health care, education, and activities; and
- resolving conflicts about any other parenting function, issue or decision as may be agreed between the parents (with some exceptions).
What does PC not cover?
- requests for a permanent change to the child arrangements that would substantially change the children’s time with one parent;
- a request by one parent to move the children’s place of residence;
- a request by one parent to remove the children from the jurisdiction of England and Wales, whether temporarily or permanently; or
- decisions regarding life-changing or life-threatening medical treatment,
- decisions regarding the choice of full-time school, college or other educational establishment to be attended by the child;
- any case where a parent lacks capacity under the Mental Capacity Act 2005;
- any case where a person with parental responsibility for the child is a minor; or
- any other decision which the PC considers, at their discretion, goes beyond the implementation of an existing parenting plan or order and requires determination of a substantive welfare issue relating to the arrangements for the care of the child.
How to appoint a Parenting Coordinator
Appointment of a PC takes place after both participants have had an initial conversation with their prospective PC, to make sure they feel comfortable with that person. Clients are then sent the PC agreement and must take legal advice about the implications and impacts of the documents to ensure they understand the process, and the kind of decisions that can be made that may affect the family. Each person’s solicitor will also need to sign to confirm they have given legal advice.
What qualifications, memberships and experience to look for
Parenting Coordinators are highly experienced family practitioners, often specialising in non-court resolutions. They usually have three years post-qualification mediation experience and will be accredited with the Family Mediation Council. PC’s come from various legal and therapeutic backgrounds.
- Speak to your solicitor, if you have one, to obtain your child arrangements order.
- attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting, where an accredited mediator will be able to explain all non-court resolution processes to you, and will be able to point you in the right direction.
- You should start to be able to paint a picture in your area as the same names may come up. Then have a look at the Parenting Coordinators website https://parentingcoordinators.co.uk/ where you can see the biographies of the PC’s.
- Arrange to have a short chat with a couple of PC’s, and see who you feel comfortable with, so that you can move to the next stage of the process.
Claire Webb contributed to ‘Separating With Children 101’, 3rd edition, (Bath Publishing, 2023).